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Travel & Explore: North Wales (The U.K.’s Hidden Gem)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

I’m not sure why, but before this trip I had never heard anyone talk about Wales. I knew of this country and I knew where it was on the map, but for some reason it didn’t seem to be a very popular travel destination – or at least not as popular as Greece or Punta Cana. I can’t say why, but I can say that it was the most beautiful place I have ever been. Here are some incredible sights to see in North Wales!

Welsh Highland Railway

My first adventure in Wales began on a beautiful and old-fashioned-looking steam train from Porthmadog Station to Caernarfon via the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, which runs right through the gorgeous mountains of Snowdonia National Park. I sat in an open-air cart and breathed in the mountain air the entire way. The ride was about 4 hours in total, with a brief stop in Caernarfon where I found the most quaint little city center. There were shops, fish and chip spots, a carousel and a perfect view of the Caernarfon Castle. Though the train ride was a long one, the views along the way were incredible and made it 100% worth it.


Designed and built by Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1973, Portmeirion is a unique and incredible place that is like nothing else you will see in all of North Wales. It is a well-hidden village on the sea in Minffordd that resembles an Italian or Spanish style village with its colorful architecture and Mediterranean foliage. I walked around the grounds, visited shops and took a free train ride all around with commentary and the views were just gorgeous. For a second I forgot I was in Wales! It is strange and slightly pricey as far as admission fees go, but I would definitely recommend seeing this!


While driving through Wales, we accidentally came across a small village with gray stone buildings, an old church, shops, and a flowing river and it instantly stole my heart. Walking through these streets and small shops I felt such comfort and bliss, and at the same time it felt extremely authentic. This was a real Welsh village and it was so lovely. Apart from nature and some shops there is not much else to see here, but as a whole the experience was a very warm one, and I would absolutely recommend stopping through if you ever get the chance.

Shell Island

My last stop in Wales was Shell Island, a simple yet scenic beach in Gwynedd. It was rocky and definitely not the place to go if you’re looking to lie out on a beach covered in fluffy sand, but it was still worth the visit. As the name implies, there are some beautiful shells to be found on this beach and if you dig a bit, there is no telling what you may find. There were also some giant jellyfish that had washed up on the rocks and they were very interesting to examine as we hopped along the rocks.

Overall, Wales is absolutely underrated and needs way more recognition. The scenery, culture, language, and authenticity have all left an everlasting mark on me, and I can honestly say this country is the most beautiful place I have been thus far. If I were you, I would definitely keep North Wales in mind as you plan your next adventure. 

Allyssa is an English major at Montclair State University. In her spare time she enjoys writing and reading poetry, exploring New York City, strolling through art museums, and driving with the windows down, jamming to The 1975.  
Danielle has held various positions at Her Campus Montclair. Starting as a Contributing Writer during her sophomore year at MSU in 2015, she later became President & Editor-in-Chief during her senior year in 2017. She completed her B.A. in Communication & Media Arts with a minor in Leadership Development at Montclair State University in January 2018. Besides writing, she's a lover of cozy cafés, good lyrics, inspiring speeches, mountainous retreats, and sunsets on the skyline. She enjoys capturing the moment and has a passion for travel and discovery. You can often find her exploring NYC or venturing to one of her favorite East Coast spots.